Respectful Insolence

Yawn. More Choprawoo.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get a bit bored with Deepak Chopra. He’s like the Energizer Bunny of woo; he just keeps going and going and going and going. Unfortunately, one of his sycophants going under the ‘nym “ChopraFan” appears to have infested my blog, posting plugs for Chopra’s latest idiocy in the comments of unrelated blog posts. it’s almost as though he wants me to trash Chopra’s latest incursion into woo, a breathtakingly inane piece called The God Delusion? Part 5 (or here on The Huffington Post).

PZ’s already chewed over the woo, but I can’t resist getting a couple of licks in myself, mainly because “ChopraFan” has annoyed me by continuing to post links to Chopra’s drivel in my comments. Chopra begins:

Science has progressed through experiments that convince people about the truth through verified results. If it’s true that consciousness is everywhere in Nature–a basic tenet if you want to prove that God exists–there needs to be an experiment to prove it. Materialists argue that no such experiments exist and therefore no claim for either consciousness or intelligence is believable. Life proceeds by chance, adaptation, and survival. That’s the creed of Darwin, who single-handedly stripped Nature of everything having to do with intention, purpose, and intelligence as a guiding force. In Dawkins’ view there’s no need to alter this stroke of radical surgery..


Ack! There he goes again with the straw man argument against evolution that it proceeds by chance!

IHe’s also full of crap in his argument about God because he has only one view of what such a being would be, if he exists. If there is a God, why does Chopra assume that God must be a “consciousness that is everywhere in nature”? Maybe the existence of God would imply such a thing; maybe not. The “consciousness” permeating nature is Chopra‘s view of what God must be if God exists. It is not the only possible view for such a being, nor is it every believer’s view of what God is.

I’m not going to go over the pathetically illogical “thought experiment” involving visualizing a yellow flower that Chopra uses to “prove” that this universal consciousness exists and must be more than just the matter that makes up the human brain. PZ has already revealed it for the New Age woo that it is as well or better than I could. One of the commenters demolished the Choprawoo blathering that somehow our ability to imagine a yellow flower without there actually being a flower within our heads is somehow an argument against the “materialistic” assertion that consciousness is explained adequately as the result of physical processes in the brain:

Your “thought experiment” is, once again, a straw man. In what way have you refuted Dawkins? Sights and sounds in the mind are the interpretations of phenomena that impinge on our senses. It requires no appeal to the supernatural to explain this. The observer cannot “know” reality because the observer is separate from the phenomena observed – but the observer can still record (and recall) images that it associates with the phenomena.

I have before me a DVD that contains the movie “Jaws”. Where is the ocean? Where is the boat? Where is the bad acting and implausible plotline? A real shark does not threaten me so (by your “logic”) all DVD’s must be linked to an uber-consciousness. Do DVDs believe in god?

Heh. Or, as commenter Blake Stacey put it:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Apparently, our boy Deepra is still amazed that grandma doesn’t actually live in the telephone.

Indeed, Chopra seems unable to distinguish between the images and memories retained by the brain and the actual objects and experiences that resulted in the formation of those memories.

Unfortunately, that’s not all the woo Chopra dishes out:

The physical world can’t deliver God, not because God doesn’t exist, but because the solid, physical world is an illusion–as quantum physics proved long ago–and one must look inside consciousness itself to find what God is about. If God is a universal intelligence, that will turn out to be a fact. It won’t be superstition. It won’t be derived from the Bible or the Koran.

Um, no, Dr. Chopra. Quantum physics has not proven that the “physical world is an illusion.” Quantum mechanics, despite the counterintuitive observations produced by it, is quantifiable, verifiable, and measurable by science. If quantum mechanics were otherwise, it wouldn’t have persisted as a key part of modern physics. Illusion has nothing to do with it. What you’re spouting here is nothing more than the unholy union of Buddhist philosophy (the world being an illusion) and a hilariously off-based misunderstanding of quantum theory, resulting in yet more of the bastard offspring that I once dubbed Choprawoo.

But the woo doesn’t end even there:

When you get to the primal state of the universe, what is it? A universal field that encloses all matter and energy. This field is everywhere, but it also localizes itself. A molecule in the brain is one expression of the field, so is a thought. If a molecule isn’t an object but a collapsed quantum wave, then that holds true for the whole brain. The field turns out to be the common ground of both the inner and outer world. When Einstein said that he wanted to know the mind of God, he was pointing us toward the field, which quantum physics continues to explore. Crude skeptics like Dawkins lag far behind.

Fortunately, as the two worlds of inner and outer begin to merge, we won’t be plagued by either the superstition of religion or the superstition of materialism. New concepts will explain how the color yellow exists in our brain as the same phenomenon as a yellow flower in the meadow. Both are experiences in consciousness.

That covers the basic and I think most convincing refutation of the anti-God argument. It doesn’t prove God by any means, much less does it degrade science. The damage that anti-God rhetoric does is to cloud reality. In reality there is ample room for both God and science

The Choprawoo here is so concentrated that I truly fear for my sanity and critical thinking skills if I were to try to delve too deeply into deconstructing it. It’s just a number of buzzwords thrown together to form “paradoxes” that are meant to be profound but really are nothing more than bad ideas tarted up with “sciency”-sounding and “philosophical”-sounding jargon. “This field is everywhere, but also localizes itself”? Molecules are “collapsed quantum waves”? I suspect that Chopra has no clue what that actually means or what physics really says about collapsed quantum waves. No, I know he has no clue. If this “universal consciousness” exists and is indeed responsible for the creation of human consciousness, I have to think it must be as incompetent as the “intelligent designer” that anti-evolutionists like to invoke as somehow guiding evolution and occasionally inserting “irreducibly complex” structures into organisms if it also created Deepak Chopra’s consciousness.

I’m also sure that Albert Einstein, were he alive, would bitch-slap Chopra for abusing his words in such a manner.

Comments

  1. #1 Melissa G
    November 29, 2006

    “When you get to the primal state of the universe, what is it? A universal field that encloses all matter and energy. This field is everywhere, but it also localizes itself.”

    Um…

    “The Force is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.”

    Chopra’s been watching Star Wars again, I see.

  2. #2 Lucas McCarty
    November 29, 2006

    The Choprafan is gone but it’ll be back, and in increasing numbers.

  3. #3 Melissa G
    November 29, 2006

    Deepak Chopra wasn’t a doctor, he was a navigator on a spice freighter.

  4. #4 Joshua
    November 29, 2006

    Which explains why his ramblings are so unintelligible. Maybe he makes sense if you speak Wookiee.

  5. #5 Blake Stacey
    November 29, 2006

    I’m famous! I’m famous! ;-)

  6. #6 Lucas McCarty
    November 29, 2006

    Jimmy Cochrane featured on an episode of South Park once and got his client off with ‘The Chewbacca Defense’ because Chewbacca makes so little sense, he compared the case against his client to Chewbacca: making no sense.

    The Farce can have a strong effect on the weak-minded.(no, that wasn’t a mispell; the Farce is the inferior cousin of the Force)

  7. #7 Sastra
    November 29, 2006

    To me, the most frustrating thing about Chopra is the way he slyly manages to place himself as the “reasonable” position in between those “extremes” of anti-science fundamentalist religion and atheistic scientistic materialism. I know an awful lot of people who fall for it. This is supposed to be the moderate stance which allows a modern, sophisticated person to have both cutting-edge science and a more mature spirituality.

    The fact that he is WRONG on the science is not as important as the fact that he SOUNDS like he knows what he’s talking about, so it must all be a matter of opinion and preference.

  8. #8 DrSteve
    November 29, 2006

    The best part of that link to Huffpuff is the comments. Just about all of them are incredulous at the sheer inanity of Chopra’s gobbledygook.

  9. #9 Melissa G
    November 29, 2006

    He misuses quantum theory so thoroughly it’s a wonder he doesn’t bend space and time around himself. I’m so glad to see the majority of Huffpost commenters seem to know he’s full of quantum feces.

    Deepak Chopra made the Kessell Run in less than twelve parsecs.

  10. #10 Blake Stacey
    November 29, 2006

    Strong in the art of nonsense, Chopra is. Tempted by the woo, he was. But woo leads to stupidity, stupidity leads to blathering, and blathering the dark side is.

    Once you start down the woo path, forever will it dominate your destiny.

    . . . . sorry. I’ve lost a lot of patience with Star Wars, but this is just too much fun.

  11. #11 HCN
    December 1, 2006

    A clear indication of the stupidity inherent in being a “Choprafan” is he is AGAIN posting the Chopra crud on an unrelated blog post… even when this one has not even scrolled off the front page.

    What a maroon!

  12. #12 HCN
    December 2, 2006

    Well, it seems that there is an automatic “hold for moderation” if the word “Chopra” is used in comments to non-Chopra blog posts (even for comments that called Chopra an idiot).

    Woo hoo!!!

    No more bizarre cut and paste random Chopra quotes on unrelated blog posts! I had more than enough of him when I heard him on a local radio show. I could almost hear the host trying to be polite while attempting to hold in his smirk/chortle. I just guffawed at the outlandish stuff Chopra said.

  13. #13 Orac
    December 2, 2006

    Not exactly.

    However, I do now have a filter for ChopraFan. He’s welcome to comment but not spam. I’ve had enough of his posting plugs for Chopra’s woo in random posts where Chopra isn’t even the topic or even mentioned.

  14. #14 Kristjan Wager
    December 2, 2006

    I will quote the estemed blogger in full from a comment he made at Mr PZ Myer’s blog:

    Some idiot going by the ‘nym ChopraFan has been spamming the comments of my blog about this “part 6.” I haven’t decided if I’ll respond yet, but if I do it’ll be brief (brevity being highly unusual for me, I know).

    Orac, one day you’ll make a brief post, and the blogsphere will close down in shock, but that day is not today.

    Loved your post, BTW.